Burglar targeted hospitalised next-door neighbour

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A BURGLAR who stole sentimental jewellery from his next-door-neighbour’s home while he was in hospital undergoing an operation has been jailed for two-and-half years.

Benjamin Chapman (28) broke in to the property on Barge Close in Spalding while his girlfriend’s neighbour, Jane Bell, was at the hospital visiting her partner.

Lincoln Crown Court heard drug addict Chapman searched through various drawers and escaped with jewellery, including an 1896 sovereign ring, which Miss Bell’s partner had removed because of his operation.

Other items taken by Chapman in the burglary included necklaces, bracelets, a digital video camera and a jar of loose change.

The court was told Miss Bell immediately suspected Chapman, who she had helped in the past, after returning from hospital and noticing a kitchen blind was not in the right place.

Behind it a window had been broken to gain entry.

Chapman was arrested at another property in Spalding where the camera was found in a box on the drive and admitted the burglary during interview.

The court heard Chapman had been bailed to his girlfriend’s home in Barge Close after causing damage of over £3,500 during an earlier burglary at an unoccupied house in Holbeach Road, Spalding.

That property was flooded after the central heating system was ripped out.

In mitigation the court was told Chapman had become addicted to heroin while serving a previous sentence in prison.

Chapman, of Barge Close, Spalding, admitted two charges of burglary on 17 January and 6 July this year.

Passing sentence Judge Sean Morris told him the burglary of his neighbour was a “mean and low offence.”

Judge Morris said: “They were out at the time, they were at hospital where he was having an operation.

“These were people you accept had helped you in the past.

“The lady of the household says she felt numb and sad that such a thing could have happened.”